Saturday, March 2, 2013

Engaging Your Core

In yoga classes, I often hear teachers give the admonishment to "engage your core." Doing so means tightening the muscles in your abdomen - the core muscles -  to support your body in the appropriate way that lessens the opportunity for injury while assuring that the proper muscles are being used for the given pose.

It's often difficult to tell through outside observation if someone actually is engaging their core during practice. Most times, the individual is the only one who REALLY knows if he is engaging his core. It requires being mindful - purposefully moving through the poses. It can be easy to get lazy, letting the core go and allowing other parts of the body to pick up the slack. We think that we are the only ones who really know whether we're engaging it or not, but it's sometimes glaringly obvious to the observer. This "easier route" is only a facade because the rest of the body ends up working harder than it should, often resulting in misuse of other muscles/tendons/ligaments, as well as fatigue. Strain or injury can occur. Many of the benefits of the practice can be missed. We begin to believe that the practice isn't accomplishing anything. But isn't yoga about more than just "going through the motions"?

A strong core helps to guarantee a strong body as we age. It helps to assure proper posture and a back that is free of pain and injury. A strong core is at the center of a solid, well balanced body.

There are many parallels between what happens on the yoga mat and what's happening in the rest of life. Engaging your core is one of them.

It's easy to go through your daily routine - even your entire life - with an unengaged "core": the part of you that is central to your being: your core beliefs, your passions and you giftings. Instead, we are mindless. We opt for the easy route - core lax, going through the motions simply because it makes us look as if we are going through the motions. Day after day, we begin to develop a lazy life "practice." To the observer, we may seem as if we're doing it right. Decades pass and we realize that our core can't support us because we haven't done the things necessary to strengthen it, no matter who we've managed to fool to the contrary. A life without an engaged core is a sad and empty life that is impotent to affect others. A life with a soft, flabby core is a tragedy.

Knowing what you need to do to live a life that's engaged with the center of who you are does not make you "self-centered." Living life with an engaged core helps you to walk in the full strength of who you are created to be, because you know who you are created to be - with an awareness of your role in the world that you are living in. Rather than reducing your life down to "self-centeredness," it enlarges your vision, equipping you to know your purpose, allowing you to live in a way that positively contributes to the rest of the world.

1 comment :

Valerie said...

Yoga is also my favorite type of core exercise. It is also my way to relieve my muscle and joint pain. But before my workout, I always take my joint support supplements just to make sure.